Strangler Fig


After midnight you set out, some on foot,

others hiding in the back of an old pick-up

truck. Fate is the string on a paper kite, caught

in a strangler fig tree. Tangled, useless. Root

stems grafted together, merging each time they touch.

Noble and strange. Twisted. Overhead, a crescent

moon, sharp as a sickle. Its hook like blade could

lop your ear off. There are holes in the wall.

But you have to know where to look.


America. Where you cut lawns and give mani-

pedis and mop floors and change old peoples’ diapers.

Sleeping six to a room. Eating food from the dollar store.

If they catch you, they send you away. Hope is the

skin on a copperhead, it sheds and grows back.


The truck rumbles below your ribs. Someone moans.

Stink of fear and piss. The wind tumbles through the

acacias. Your mother’s brother has a cousin outside

Kansas City. You don’t know where Kansas City is.

The figs on the trees not yet ripened. Color of blood

and sadness, hard as the moonlit stones.





Sol ‘it’ ude /~/ n.1. The state or situation of being alone. Blue feather dizzily falling. Leaves no one bothered to rake. The empty chair you used to watch TV in. Barren and stained, covered with a winding sheet. Thoreau had it wrong. Once the maple leaf loses that scarlet sheen, it withers and crumples, feigning death. Walden Pond was a kettle hole formed by glaciers in retreat. 2. A lonely or uninhabited place. Rural wilderness or desert, backwoods. The word beasts recline in the shade of the maples, licking their paws, dreaming of meat.



Beth Sherman


Beth Sherman received an MFA in creative writing from Queens College, where she teaches in the English department. Her poetry has been published in Hartskill Review, Lime Hawk, Synecdoche, Gyroscope, The Evansville Review, Silver Birch Press, Zingara, Rust + Moth, and Blue River Review. She is also a Pushcart nominee and has written five mystery novels.


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